Martin Donovan, Green Iowa Americorps
When you’re cooking up ways to increase the efficiency of your home, upgrading your stove to an induction cooktop could be a fun and useful thing to consider. Unlike electric or gas cooktops, induction burners directly heat pots and pans. But what does direct heat actually mean? When cooking with electric stoves, a lot of energy is used to heat metal coils which then heats the glass surface, and ultimately heats a pot or pan. This means that energy is lost for heating the surface of the stove. Induction stoves, on the other hand, use alternating magnetic currents to heat a pot or pan. The surface of an induction stove emits no heat, however, the surface can become warm by absorbing heat from a pot or pan.
Switching to an induction stove might require you to buy new pots and pans. Since induction cooking uses magnetic currents, your pots and pans need to be made out of magnetic metals. This means that cast iron and steel work great, while an aluminum pot will never get warm. If you are unsure if your current cookware will work, simply put a magnet onto the pot or pan. If it sticks, it is compatible with an induction stove.
Other than being slightly limited with the types of cookware you can use on an induction stove, there are some great upsides to induction burners. First, induction stoves heat cookware much faster and with much less energy than electric stoves. Some induction stoves can boil water in roughly a minute! Second, unlike gas stoves, there is no risk of gas leaks and no negative indoor air quality effects. Third, many induction stoves allow people to have greater control over cooking heat. This is especially important for induction cooking since temperatures can increase much faster compared to most electric and gas stoves.
Induction stoves are generally more expensive upfront than gas and electric stoves, but they should cost less to run than the other options. Induction stoves run between $350 to $1000, but if you are interested in induction ranges (stove and oven), those are priced anywhere between $1500 and $4,500. Although, the most expensive induction ranges are geared more towards commercial use and are probably unnecessary for home cooking. Another option are induction cooktops, which have one to two burners and plug into an outlet. The price range for induction cooktops range from $50 to $300, and can be used in a variety of settings like camping or having an additional burner available if needed. Luckily, some of the highest rated stove options are not the most expensive ones on the market!
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